In a time where technology is the driving force of communication, we can be bombarded with too much information, much of which is quite negative. Currently, Toronto is a media target, both nationally and internationally, due to Mayor Rob Ford’s numerous indiscretions. Negative media attention can easily fuel undue upset, anger, discouragement, and embarrassment.
Negativity is every where. People Finger-pointing and complaining inhibits growth opportunities, reduces possibilities and effectively stifles productive conversations and creative solutions.can feel blanketed by it like being shrouded by a thick fog when driving. This contributes to nervousness, confusion, frustration and anxiety. So how do we release such negative energy? Because “bad things” are happening all the time, and when we feel like we cannot take it anymore, what do we do about it? How can we move forward?
What follows are views, ideas and precepts that can help turn a negative experiences into a positive ones?
Gandhi once said, “When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall,” (from Joe Vitale’s Life’s Missing Instruction Manual).
An ancient biblical reference in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 refers to love as follows: 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
During what sometimes feels like our darkest times, when we feel betrayed, hurt and defeated, what will bring us into the light is love. Love involves taking a higher road, putting aside our destructive attitudes, feelings and behaviours (e.g. like blaming and complaining), in favour of more positive and caring approaches.
Though this can feel like a major uphill climb, a loving view of others can lead to growth opportunities, increase possibilities and foster effective, productive conversations that generate creative solutions.
Love is a verb! It can be seen in a vast array of behaviours or actions. One such expression of love is forgiveness. Research supports this premise, suggesting that forgiving past wrongs can be helpful in the aid of anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and chronic pain—it can alter the state of our health (University of Wisconsin, Department of Family Medicine).
Some may think of forgiveness as a process to make the other person feel better; however those who forgive may reap as much of not more benefit than those forgiven. In the material on “The Nature of Forgiveness” (University of Wisconsin Department of Family Medicine) we learn the following:
Forgiveness is a transformation. The key is to release suffering and increase inner peace and understanding.
Forgiveness is NOT forgetting. In fact, you have to remember and acknowledge negative emotions and events before forgiveness can occur.
- Forgiveness is NOT pardoning, excusing, or saying that something will be treated as acceptable behaviour in the future.
- Forgiveness is, first and foremost, done for the person doing the forgiving.
- Forgiveness is a path to freedom. It frees you from the control of the person who caused the harm. They lose their power to cause you to feel negative emotions.
- Forgiveness can break old patterns that might otherwise interfere when you try to create new relationships.
- Forgiveness can take a lot of time and hard work.
- Forgiveness need not require ‘making up’ with the person who caused the harm. It is an internal process. It is primarily for you. The goal is to help you heal, to help you grow.
Thinking about forgiveness may not be enough. For many, tapping into principles described in various spiritual traditions from around the world is necessary. Prayer, meditation, intrapersonal and interpersonal dialogues, mindfulness, and developing emotional intelligence may be essential parts of the forgiveness process for many people.
It is essential to our physical, spiritual and mental health to seek ways to surround ourselves with positive examples of life, qualities and relationships. Learning ways to increase our ability to love and forgive helps us let go and move toward a happier and more satisfying life.